After playing mainly local rivals and other Scottish teams in pre-season friendlies over the past few years, tomorrow brings a refreshing change of opponent when Tranmere Rovers visit EEP. After losing their Football League status in 2015, they endured 3 seasons in the National League before securing a return to the Football League after defeating Boreham Wood 2-1 in the play-off final at Wembley 2 months ago. The club have spent the majority of the past 20 years in the third tier of English football, with ambitions to climb higher. They will hope to win promotion again this season, although their cause has not been helped by the loss of last season's 28-goal striker Andy Cook, who has signed for League 1 side Walsall.
Dunfermline's first home pre-season friendly will be many Pars fans' first sightings of the raft of new signings made over the summer. After 2 away games at Bayview, against East Fife and Raith Rovers (the latter with 236 Pars fans in attendance) a larger crowd at EEP is obviously anticipated. Some of the additions to the squad this summer, including returning players who wer eon loan last season - Tom Beadling and James Vincent - have yet to feature this pre-season, with Allan Johnston preferring not to risk aggravating minor injuries. Tomorrow could also see the first appearance in the black and white for midfielder Joe Thomson. The other new signings - Mark Durnan, Danny Devine, Louis & Jackson Longridge and Aidan Connolly - have all featured in the past 2 games.
Lee Robinson and Lee Ashcroft, together with Callum Smith, are other players who have not had any gametime this pre-season. There has been no confirmation regarding their chances of being involved tomorrow. Cammy Gill has done well in Robinson's absence and will have benefited from this, having spent all of last season on the bench.
Up front, while it is clear we require 2 additions to increase competition and quality, 17 year old youth team player Lewis McCann has been impressive in his appearances in both games at Bayview, scoring in each game. Andy Ryan's impact has been minimal but he will be an important player in the season ahead.
The experiment of substituting the entire first team and replacing them with the youth team after an hour was relatively successful against East Fife and Raith but I would be very surprised if such wholesale changes were made against what will be tougher physical opponents tomorrow.